Jason's face eludes me.
I search deep down in the guts to see
if I can find it.
To annotate the eyelids and
curve of his nose,
shape of his chin.
Some misconstrued drawing done
by my teenage self within.
But a shadow of dust floats before me
when shaking out the vision.
Caked in minute particles of
guilt and sorrow.
A mission to regenerate a memory,
though Jason would say, "No.
Just think about tomorrow."
I ask for you to carry
a memory, though
the burden itself may be
heavier than expected when
you recall a glimpse of me.
It is not my intention to
bring sorrow, rather joy.
A parting moment, smile,
or words of wisdom to employ.
And if this weight becomes
too much, you may certainly concede
to take a breath, a moment,
before you dutifully proceed.
The work you have committed to
in remembering my face
will fulfill the soul's desire
that death cannot erase.
Michael was moved by misery.
A prolific pain would gather
in his chest, a stinging crest,
and nothing else would matter.
And so he avoided television,
internet, and media sources.
Famine, war, blood and gore,
and blunt, unfettered discourses.
Michael was moved by misery.
So he tucked himself away.
The excuse to become recluse
could disrupt this hasty fray.
And so he locked himself inside
and threw away the key.
Through his grief he found relief
as a mental amputee.
Michael was moved by misery.
People perceived him as strange.
He was not fraught with what they thought.
He’d rather be estranged.
And so I found a man one morning,
who had subtly, peacefully passed.
“A nobody,” they said, when word had spread.
“We had never thought to ask.”
“Stop using your phone voice,” he says.
“What does that mean?”
“It means stop being so stoic.
Stop acting so serene.”
“Well, if I responded any other way,” I say,
“you’d probably lose your shit.”
“You’re one to talk,” he says.
“You fucking hypocrite.”
“I don’t think that’s accurate," I say.
“You don’t see me freaking out.”
“Stop with the fucking phone voice, he says.
“If you don’t, you can get the fuck out!”
“That’s unfortunate to hear,” I say.
“But I guess it’s for the best.
I tried to approach this calmly,
but you just seem really stressed.”
“GET. THE. FUCK. OUT!”
You don’t have to ask me twice.
I never thought my phone voice
was just simply being nice.
I once knew a fickle pickle
I once knew a fickle pickle
Who was prone to changing his mind.
He could never agree on a sandwich
Where he'd prefer to bide his time.
And his loyalty to condiments
Was ephemeral, yet hellish.
At first, he'd go with the mayo.
Then, end up with the relish.
No deli meat would satisfy.
Just refined charcuterie.
But no sooner would I turn around
And he'd be laying with the brie.
And the fickle pickle went about
As if no bun would care.
Yet, how could buns not notice
When said sandwich was left bare?
So he joined a jar of others
That seemed to be akin.
Since his allegiance changed so quickly,
Why not be with those like him?
Good riddance, fickle pickle.
You're better off alone.
Of course you'd claim the vinegary depths
And think that it was "home."
The shadow of you
I try to rehash the day I knew you didn’t want to be with me anymore. Your friends came up and told me that I should look out, I should anticipate that you were talking to someone else. And there was really no good way to confront what exactly was happening. So it seemed most logical to catch you in the act of doing it versus just attempting to guess based on the circumstances. It was like hard proof was the only way to really prove it to myself.
I remember how much you made me feel like I was in the wrong. Like I was crazy for creeping on you even though you were doing something that was wrong. You made me feel like a fool. Like some washed up kid who had no idea that she could be played. Like I was just along for the ride of your deceit after all that we had been through. People at your school thought I was an idiot. People at my school thought that I was gullible. I mean, 4 years. Why? Why did we even decide that that was a good idea? Dedicating oneself to something, truly believing that this was the end all be all? Why? Was it easier to believe that it was worth it, not knowing the damage it would cause?
I gave myself to you. Like everything, every little facet of my being so much so that it made me ill when I realized you gave that up for someone else. And then you dated her after me. So just in case there were any doubts that you may not have been into her, you made sure to double down. And I remember I hated her for that. Thought she was a slut. Thought she was the one who interjected herself in our relationship. All the f*cks that I figured should be directed at her, when they should have been directed at you.
You made me look weak. And did you ever once think about how that would affect my future self? If you had just told the truth to me then maybe my future relationships wouldn’t have been a mockery of insecurity and intentional self deprecation. Maybe I would have thought myself worthy of something more than minimal, more than bullshit, more than checking phones and questioning whereabouts and finding makeup that’s not my own on other boyfriends’ pillowcases. Maybe I would have chosen differently.
Or maybe I would have even chosen to just be by myself. But I couldn’t because I got lost in you, thinking that I had to share myself with someone else so deeply in order for me to gauge who I really was as a person.
It took me years to realize that I didn’t need a second half. It took me years to realize that I still harbor shame for something that I wasn’t even really responsible for. And shame for continuing to think of you.
Why won’t you get the f*ck out of my head even to this day? Why are you still in my dreams? Even after all this time I am still left with the shadow of you, which hurts even more than that first realization you didn’t want to be with me anymore.
Today I went back to church. I haven't been in a long time... only for funerals. I remember when you used to take me. I was always excited to go because you made it exciting! Sometimes you sang in the choir, up in front! Sometimes we'd go to the church social and there would be cookies and hot chocolate. You helped me to understand what it meant to be part of a community, even if I didn't recognize it.
A lot has happened this past year.
I lost you. I lost a friend. I lost the ability to find a peaceful place within myself. And I'm not sure why it didn't come to me until today, but I realized it was time. Time to go back to church.
In a strange and silly way, I was nervous. A "new" place, "new" methods, and maybe my own new perspectives towards religion. But the moment I stepped foot in the door, I was welcomed. People thanked me for coming!
When we sang, I was drawn back to times when you would hold the hymnal, your finger moving along the page to point out the words for the verse so I knew what to sing (or at least pretend to know).
The pastor talked about the old and new covenant, how concepts may evolve but they still invoke the same message. How, no matter what, nothing can mitigate the unity that can be formed as long as there are common goals of love and service.
I will go back next Sunday. I will navigate my new interpretations of God's word because I know that you exist within it. I know that you were with me today.
I remember a boy named John.
He was gaunt,
a rake almost.
His glasses enormous,
an extension of his face.
And when he got angry,
he got REALLY angry.
Like foaming at the mouth angry.
One morning the teacher left the room.
Another boy stole something of his.
He got up to defend himself,
and I stuck my foot out to trip him.
When he got back up,
we waited for the anger.
But it eluded him.
He sat back down.
After all these years
I see John.
I did that. I was the source of
And the embarrassment lingers.
But only for one of us.
I read that controlled brush fires
mitigate uncontrollable forest fires.
Clearing debris eradicates
unwanted smoldering that leads to
I read that a man killed his wife
I read that a mob attacked a bystander
I read that a group shot their leader
For God's sake!
"Why is it so cold outside if the sun is shining?"
You said you didn't have an answer.
I feel like that a lot
now that you're gone.
Like you've become this ongoing force,
this celestial body that I know
encouraging life to move forward.
But I can't seem to shake the chill
of your physical absence.
I know I asked a lot of questions.
I miss your answers.
I miss even when you didn't answer.
When you chose not to elaborate
on the Earth's hemispheres,
you didn't know that the same question
I asked in childhood
would serve as a mirror to reflect this future grief